Talks continue over Derry, Strabane & Belfast opening European Capital bid

The crowd at Radio One's Big Weekend, at Ebrington Square in Derry during the City of Culture year in 2013.  (Niall Carson/PA Wire)
The crowd at Radio One's Big Weekend, at Ebrington Square in Derry during the City of Culture year in 2013. (Niall Carson/PA Wire)
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Derry, Strabane and Belfast have agreed to explore the submission of a joint opening bid to become European Capital of Culture, it has been confirmed.

The two councils are currently in talks concerning a potential 2023 bid which, if successful, would bring exposure and international attention on a massive scale.

If it goes ahead, the two councils are expected to draw from Derry’s successful bid to become the first UK City of Culture back in 2013, as well as Belfast’s former bid to become the European Capital of Culture.

They will also be hoping to emulate the success of Galway’s bid, which has netted the city the accolade for 2020.

It will see the two council regions and the arts and culture sectors in the two largest cities in the north working together like never before.

The UK was already lined up to host the Capital of Culture in 2023, before the Brexit vote in June.

The chosen UK city is expected to share the title with a city in Hungary.

In a joint statement, Derry City and Strabane District Council and Belfast City Council have indicated that both local authorities have been given Committee approval to “explore the potential of submitting a joint bid to become the UK host city for the European Capital of Culture in 2023”.

The Councils cautioned that the decision has still to be ratified by full council.

In addition, they stressed that “any potential bid process was at a very early stage and if it were to go forward that a considerable level of engagement across the cultural community, alongside input from the voluntary, public and private sectors would be required”.

An initial bid submission will need to be submitted to Westminster’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport in October 2017.

The current European Capital of Culture accolade is shared between Donostia-San Sebastián in Spain and Wrocław in Poland.

Galway will take the honour in 2020 alongside Rijeka in Croatia.